Saturday’s UFC Charlotte event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in North Carolina, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Spectrum Center.
1 – Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
I gotta admit, I was a bit skeptical about “Jacare” Souza’s chances against Derek Brunson last Saturday. He’s 38 (and I can say that because I’m 49), coming off a nearly year-long layoff, was with a new team, and Brunson hits hard. Really hard. But there he was, proving once again why he’s one of the top middleweights in the game, and he ended the fight with a head kick, no less. Amazing stuff from the Brazilian veteran, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s next for him in a wide open weight class. Will I count him out again? Nope.
2 – Gregor Gillespie
If you read my pre-fight profile on Gregor Gillespie, you’ll see that he’s one of the more interesting competitors in the game, and when you couple this with his performances on fight night, his potential for stardom and a gold belt is crystal clear. On Saturday, he put on a grappling master class against Jordan Rinaldi before finishing matters with 14 seconds left in the first round. That makes 4-0 with three finishes for the unbeaten New Yorker, and while the lightweight division is a shark tank, Gillespie is more than equipped to navigate it.
3 – Drew Dober
When the Ovince Saint Preux-Ilir Latifi bout got moved and left a main card opening last weekend, Drew Dober and Frank Camacho jumped right in and got the night off to a rousing start with a Fight of the Night-winning battle. Now for the record, I had Camacho pulling out the win, but it was close enough that Dober winning was no robbery. But enough semantics. The reason Dober is here is because he represents the hard-nosed veteran who got his shot and made the most of it. That win in Charlotte means Dober could see a top 15 opponent next, and he’s earned that. He shows up to fight, and while he’s had bumps in the road, he keeps moving forward and he may be in his best form yet. Watch out for Mr. Dober in the rest of 2018.
4 – Bobby Green
If you want @NateDiaz209...
Whether due to injuries or out of the Octagon issues, I feel like we’ve never seen the best Bobby Green. Oh, there have been flashes, but to see him confident, focused and relaxed in beating Erik Koch Saturday, it was a reminder that the Californian isn’t just a tough out for anyone at 155 pounds, but that he’s exciting enough to make an impact and good enough to beat the elite.
5 – Mirsad Bektic
"I told you."
In 13 pro fights, Mirsad Bektic has had approximately three bad minutes. Of course, those three bad minutes resulted in a comeback for the ages by Darren Elkins last March that went viral and left Bektic with his first pro loss. On Saturday, he got back on track with a Performance of the Night knockout of the always dangerous Godofredo Pepey, reestablishing himself as one of the top featherweights in the game. It’s been a long time, but he’s back.